SRINAGAR: Two youth were killed by suspected militants in Shopian district in a span of barely 24 hours, sparking fear in in the restive south Kashmir which has emerged as the epicentre of militancy in the region.

Police officials said suspected militants abducted three civilians from a bakery, including the owner, in wee hours of Saturday in Saidpora Payeen village of Shopian district. Later in the day, the body of one of the civilians was recovered from Lundoora village.

“The slain civilian was identified as Huzaif Ahmad Kuttay, a resident of Manzam, Kulgam, who ran the bakery. The militants had slit his throat and there were visible torture marks on his body,” a senior police officer told The Citizen.

The two other abducted civilians, Shahid Ahmad Ganie and Farooq Ahmad Thockar, both residents of Saidpora Payeen. were set free. As Huzaif’s family was preparing for his last rites, two more civilians were kidnapped by militants from Shopian’s Meemandar village at around 4 pm.

“However, they were released on Saturday night,” the officer said. He identified the freed civilians as Javed Ganie and Ishfaq Ahmad.

The killing came barely 24 hours after suspected militants on Thursday evening abducted a class 11 student from Safanagari village of Shopian district. His bullet-riddled body was found in Nikloora village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Friday morning.

“No words enough to condemn the brutal killing of a class XI student at Saidapora Payeen, Shopian. We as a society need to rise above party affiliations to save youngsters from becoming victims of the unending cycle of violence (sic),” former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti wrote on Twitter.

National Conference working president and former J&K CM Omar Abdullah also condemned the killing, “The cold blooded murder of an 11th standard student by the Hizbul Mujahideen terror outfit is deeply disturbing. There can be no justification for this act & should force those who sympathise with these outfits to question how these murders make Kashmir a better, freer place,” he tweeted.

The twin killings have spread panic in Shopian district, a hotbed of militancy where forces are in the middle of intensified counter insurgency operations. More than 200 militants have been killed across the state this year.

The operations against militants have also taken a toll on the civilian population of whom more than 100 have been killed this year. While most of the killings have been blamed on security forces, militants have also targeted civilians alleged to be working as informers for security forces.

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